I Lift Up My Eyes
"I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
from whence shall my help come?
My help comes from YHVH,
Who made heaven and earth."
Yesterday, my precious friend and her daughter-in-law surprised me by stopping by my office during my lunch break. Suddenly, this beautiful face peered through the window at me as I sat at my desk. Sometimes patients (I work for a medical professional in town), will do that when they don't believe the "CLOSED" sign hanging on the door really means it. I can be rather impatient, preferring patient-free lunches but friends are good to stop by, and Susie, the friend of my heart, can stop by anytime.
Katie, Susie's daughter-in-law, and Perry, Susie's son, just moved up to the Peninsula this past weekend and Susie and Katie were shopping for various things for the house the kids just rented. They eventually want to purchase a home so Susie and Katie had driven by a place up on the hillside. So, of course, I had to see what they saw, so we looked up the listing online. The house is nice, a bit of a fixer but the location and property are phenomenal - 10 acres, sweeping view of the Strait, lots of trees and tons of potential for a young couple just starting out. What is it they say about property? Location, location, location!
Now, you have to know, that since the moment my family moved from Lake Tahoe to the high desert of Lancaster, CA, in 1971, my heart has longed for and searched for a way to return to the beauty of the water and mountains. Over the years I've mourned as if for a lost lover - which, right there, should have been a clue something was out of balance.
So when we moved here to the Olympic Peninsula, from Sacramento, CA, it felt familiar, like home. The water, the mountains, the most indescribable evening-sky-blue I'd ever seen. It was as if someone had taken Lake Tahoe and stretched it over the horizon in all directions. The way the trees here flow down the mountains to greet the water is the most satisfyingly beautiful sight I can think of. I have a visceral reaction to this beauty.
We rented our quirky little house in the perfect bluff location for almost two years, but, naturally, the time came when our landlord decided he wanted his house back. We had 2 months. Our budget was limited, it was 2008, and housing prices had come down. We discussed renting again vs. buying and decided to give ourselves until the end of the first month to find a place to buy. I so did not want to rent again. Emotionally, I'm a terrible renter.
We probably looked at 30 houses from Sequim to Port Angeles, either made, or attempted to make, offers on three different ones but each time someone beat us out. Running out of time, we remembered the very first house we had looked at and went back for a second look. It had an odd shaped lot, the carpet stunk, the floors creaked like an out of tune orchestra, it was nearly barren of trees and had scrubby grass instead of lush ferns, but it was in a good "location" surrounded by very nice homes. It didn't have the water view which I longed for but "it had a nice mountain view" and was the best thing out there in our price range.
To stick within our time frame we needed to make an offer that day. It wasn't our dream home, but we decided, despite it's shortcomings (is any house ever perfect?), we should make an offer and let God decide if it was the place for us.
Our offer was accepted. We moved. I mourned.
Fast forward four years. Even though we've done some "fixing-up-of-the-place", it is not, was not, at all what I'd hoped for, dreamed of, longed for. It's still barren, rocky ground mirrors the way I feel about my life. We have no children and I'd chosen to spend most of my early adult years pursuing doctors and pregnancy over building a career. The inability to conceive really takes a toll on one's self-esteem, self-worth and emotions and I didn't much care about having a career. Perhaps that will be a story for another day...
Suffice it to say, since the moment we moved off that bluff, I've found myself, again, longing for, searching for a way to get back to the water and the mountains. I confess, okay, I'm jealous of anyone with a water view and trees. It sounds childish, I know, that this simple desire could so completely overcome me in such a powerful way.
Lately, this demon has lain mostly dormant in my spirit but, yesterday, when Susie, Katie and I looked at this house online, jealousy reared it's head in a most powerful way. All my disappointments and unfulfilled dreams of family, house and home, which I blamed God for, all the questions and jealousy spewed from deep down and actually caused me to feel nauseous. In the few minutes remaining of my lunch break after Susie and Katie left, fighting back tears, so as not to totally ruin my makeup, I had to ask God to please show me what this was all about. The mournful lump sat heavily on my spirit threatening to erupt into tears with the slightest permission. I had to swallow hard.
Two hours later, He finally answered me. Speaking to my heart He said, "Why should I give you your dream house when you have rejected and neglected to love and build Mine?" It sounds like a rebuke, but rather, it was more of a loving correction. His voice was saturated with sadness and longing. Metaphorically speaking, as I was already sitting down, this word knocked me back into my chair, a little stunned. My heart broke as I felt His heart break and I felt the same deep remorse as when I had done an awful deed toward my husband, breaking his heart. I worked my way through the mucky mess of emotions and found the path to confession and repentance. I declared my love for my Father and His House and people, and my acceptance of whatever restitution He would require of me. He said He wanted me to share this, so I now do as He asks. I hope I have not destroyed our relationship completely. I long to be restored to Him and ask nothing of Him. I am afraid He won't want me back. I tentatively lay at His feet and wait and see.
Though I'm still trying to discern the full meaning of Father's words, I've done a little soul-searching. One thing I've found is that, for some reason, I think God owes me this dream house. After all, He denied me parents (I'm adopted), He took me from my beloved Lake Tahoe to the awful desert, He denied me children when all family members and friends all around me popped them out like bunny rabbits, He seems to bless everyone with everything but for me He only offers more brokenness and requires more obedience.
Whoa! Hold it right there Little Missy!! Rrreeewwwinnnddd that tape!! If He hadn't allowed you to be adopted, you would not have had parents, wonderful ones, who moved you to Tahoe in the first place; if you didn't have all those loving and dear family members and friends bringing babies forth through sacrifices of pain, there would be none at all in your life. If He hadn't allowed difficult events in your life to strengthen you, you'd be a weak, dependent, sniveling mess. And have you even looked around lately at all the blessings of beauty, shelter, clothing, health and sustenance your Mighty Father has given you? You don't shake a stick at that kind of blessing! Not only did He Handpick you but He Handpicked and delivered these specific events and people to you, with your specific character in mind. I charge you, child, to look with fresh eyes and be thankful. Look to the Mountain Who gives Life. To the One From Whom Breath flows and Whose Light glows.
"He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
YHVH is your keeper; YHVH is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
YHVH will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.
YHVH will guard your going out and your coming in from this time
forth and forever." ~~~Psalm 121:3-8.
Sometimes I just need a swift kick in my sometimes ungrateful, whiny backside to restore perspective. Obviously, I'm still learning to be thankful. Along with every day comes a lesson on this subject.
I've also realized that it's not my Father who hesitates to restore our relationship. He's always faithful and quick to forgive and draw near. It's me who is the tentative, hesitant one, unable to approach Him, hindered by fear that I've wounded beyond repair, worthy only of rejection. He waits for me to forgive myself, all the while longing with open arms for my return. I want no other lover besides Him. I do know what real blessings are and I intend to weigh my dreams against these true treasures. I want to thank God, my Papa, for exactly what I have, who I am, that I am.
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains, you know, the ones that I see through my huge sunny south-facing picture window, set into the sturdy wall of the little house that He gave to shelter me. The same mountains that tower above the valley which He settled into this exquisitely beautiful Peninsula to which, because of His magnificent love for me, He so graciously brought me.
Then, I'm going to look to my Mountain, Himself, from whence comes my help and remember that He is my true blessing, a truly exquisite shelter. My Perfect Dream Home.
It Is A Good Morning!
Have you ever awakened one morning with that dreadful feeling of remorse over something you'd done the night before? I have, more than a few times. Like when we'd spent more than we had on something we didn't need or when I'd done or said something really idiotic. And like that time when I'd had too much to drink ~ oh, wait, that was just a plain 'ole hangover.
Well, after posting my first blog late last night, this morning I performed that self-check, scanning heart and soul for heavy blobs of remorse. To my surprise and relief I felt none, not even a remnant. Instead a very real peace rested there. Then I realized that I had only done what God had asked me to do. If it turned out badly or if somebody took offense, well, He was the One Who'd asked me to do this. Not, mind you, that I would turn and blame Him. I prefer not to offend or anger anyone and I'd do my best to take responsibility for any bad writing and apologize when necessary. But there was, still is, a peace in my heart knowing that stepping out in faith, doing what He'd asked me to do, created a safe resting place in Him. If someone hated something I wrote, I could just point them to God and He could deal with them. Then with a swift kick of a click, I could delete their rude comment from my site.
In last nights blog I referenced The Whisperer of Love and Healing. God Himself. For years, He's been after me, very patiently urging me to write down the things of my heart. Last night, I finally caved in, created this site and posted my first blog. I couldn't take His loving, woo-ful nagging any longer.
Now this morning, this remorseful-free morning, having established within myself, this purpose of writing, I am free to dance within sentence structures, play with adverbs, nouns and adjectives, lift up phrases like banners to the Son.
It's so sweet, this freedom.
If You're A Writer...
About 15 years ago I emailed a friend asking him if I was a writer. He wrote back, "If you're a writer, then write". That was it. No, "Love ya much". No, "Sincerely, Your Friend...". Not even a, "Respectfully Yours". In fact, I don't think he even signed his name.
His response was curt, abrupt and kinda hurt. I had hoped for a friendly and encouraging exchange, with him affirming some great gifting in me and passing along his sage advice. Boy, was I was disappointed. But all these years later, I finally see great wisdom in his sparse response.
Several people over the years had told me that I was a good writer. Like a good girl I'd say, "thank you", but promptly lodged the words on a dark shelf in the back of my mind. I didn't believe in me or that I had any value, let alone any value in what I had to say. But, occasionally, those kind words would sneak out into the light and tempt me. One day they caught me off guard, in a weak moment, and I signed up for a few writing classes. To my own great surprise, I actually showed up for all of them (after all, I paid for them), and enjoyed every one. But mostly I just stuck with my little journals or scribbled on stray scraps of paper, or kept all of my thoughts in my head until they floated away in cartoon balloons and I was left to eat chocolate, which wasn't so bad.
My husband would ask, "when are you going to write that book?", to which I'd mumble some poo-poo response. Occasionally I would ponder starting a blog and when I'd hear, here and there, that a friend or family member had started a one, I'd be surprised to discover I felt jealous. Even so, attempts at follow-through only dissolved into false starts. As soon as I'd even approach the idea to write, that niggling voice in my mind would sneer, "you'll never follow through. It might sound good in your head at this brief moment, but nobody'll want to read what you have to say".
Taunting. Taunting me it was...
Until very recently when my heart and soul finally succumbed in unison to the comforting sweet love of my Heavenly Creator. The Whisperer of Love and Healing. He's been working on this project, me, for a long time and I'm not sure how He's done it, but He's filled my heart with feeling that insists on being expressed and heard. Though, I do wonder, will I really do this? Will I write to keep from eating? Write to keep from drowning in the abyss of a billion thoughts? Write to remember? Write to forget? Write whether I'm good at it or not? Write whether anyone reads it or not? Write to breathe? Write to survive? Write with one hand on the keyboard, the other clenched defiantly in a fist raised like a shield pursuing what God has put in me..? Whew..!
Uhhh... humm... this... this is the wisdom my friend was trying to tell me! Instead of abrupt, it's just insisting. Instead of curt, it's just urgent to be heard.
It's really quite simple. If I'm a writer, then I should write.